How Many F*cks Does Felicia Day Give About What You Think of Her Haircut?
Felicia Day is a national treasure. She’s a frequent resident of the Whedonverse (I use that term without shame), she created and starred in one of the most charming and well-made web series there is, and she has an awesome geek-centric and woman-friendly YouTube channel. In the eyes of many, though, all of this was made irrelevant when she recently had the audacity to cut her damn hair.
Last week the New Statesman published a brilliant article by Laurie Penny titled Why Patriarchy Fears the Scissors. I highly recommend giving the whole thing a read. It was written as a response to both a general cultural ideal of how women should present themselves as well as a specific blog called Girls With Short Hair Are Damaged, written by a primordial fuckwad of a troll who goes by the name Tuthmosis. I won’t link to his post here because it’s already gotten WAY too much traffic. Google it if you must, but just know that it’s exactly what you expect it to be and you don’t need that in your life.
Which brings us back to Felicia Day, who used to look like this:
And now *gasp* looks like this:
She wrote a great response to Penny’s article, describing her own experience with pubescent YouTube commenters.
I have heard comments like those referred to in this article SO MUCH in the last few months since I cut my hair, mostly on YouTube, the home of 12-18 year olds. The ones that confuse and hurt me the most are like this one I got last week: “Love your videos, will be back when you grow your hair out.”
Uh, ok? My hair doesn’t affect what words come out of my mouth, dude? But he can’t see me as anything else, I guess. Guys like him tune in because I’m attractive to them. Without long hair, I’m not attractive to them. Ergo…goodbye. The substance of my work doesn’t matter because my looks are the only context they have for me in their lives. And that makes me sad, because I’ve always tried to be more than that, without screaming it in people’s faces.
You can read the full post here, but she goes on to observe:
…we exist in a culture that only treats women as paper doll cutouts we can get aroused/attracted to. Our media does that to us, men do it to women, women do it to other women.
That last point is one that too often gets overlooked. There’s this pervasive belief that if it’s thought, said, or done by a woman, it can’t be sexism. However, in a world where the Blurred Lines video exists (directed by Diane Martel), that’s simply not true.
Now here’s where it gets weird. The day after that last piece went up, Day posted this gem:
My first reaction was disgust and extreme amusement. “OMG, these idiot dude bros can’t even tell two chicks with red hair apart lol.” But I very quickly lost the amusement. I mean, talk about seeing women as interchangeable “paper doll cutouts.” I’m glad Day can laugh this off, or at least feign to, but it makes me pretty queasy. Way to prove her original point, idiot dude bros.
Now, just to get the devil’s advocate stuff out of the way, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there with eyes and ears and access to the internet who are itching point out that Day may have trouble shaming those who make note of her appearance when she herself capitalizes on it. However, there is a huge difference between making use of an asset and being seen as worthless without it.
This entire issue brings to mind an amazing video that was sent to me by our very own Joanna Robinson. It features the superior human being and science reporter Emily Graslie reading actual YouTube comments from her video blog series The Brain Scoop.
This is the most eloquent explanation I’ve seen of how a woman’s appearance (or, rather, the way many viewers feel about woman’s appearance) frequently overshadows her ideas, actions, and contributions to her field. Look, I know I’m preaching to the feminist choir here but please, for the love of Anne Hathaway’s fauxhawk, can we all please just recognize that when a woman cuts her hair or is generous enough to share her expertise on a subject on YouTube, or even just WALKS DOWN THE STREET, she is NOT ASKING FOR OUR APPROVAL OF HER APPEARANCE. She is just being a person.
Vivian Kane goes online sometimes, but everyone’s spelling is really bad. Most days, you can find her mumbling to herself here.